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Aussies top medal tally as Lockwood defies Doctor's orders to take gold

25 March 2013

ROWING: Home waters proved a happy hunting ground for Australian rowers competing at the opening round of the Samsung World Cup at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith on Sunday.  Australia won four gold medals, four silver and five bronze, with gold in the men’s coxless four, women’s eight, women’s single scull and women’s quadruple scull.

Australian crews won a total of 13 medals, on the back of a huge week of racing, which also included the Australian Open Rowing Championships as well as the King’s and Queen’s Cup Interstate Regatta as part of the inaugural Sydney International Rowing Regatta.

In one of the most stunning stories of the meet, Olympic silver medallist Will Lockwood showed how much a home World Cup triumph meant after defying medical orders to row at Penrith Lakes on Sunday.

Lockwood was badly dehydrated and suffered heat exhaustion on Saturday afternoon when his Victorian crew pushed the NSW men's eight to the brink in the interstate King's Cup race.

The 25-year-old blacked out after finishing second and needed treatment from paramedics in the 30-plus heat.

But despite warnings not to join his men's four crew on the start line Sunday morning, the bowman backed up and his Australian boat scored a commanding World Cup victory in five minutes 58.07 seconds.

"It was strongly recommended that I didn't race today but it was never an option for me," Lockwood told AAP.

"Backing up today was really tough.

"I wouldn't have been able to do another race after that but the chance to race a home World Cup and win, that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Lockwood went in to the race with a plan to put in as much as he could in the first 500m and then support crew-mates Josh Dunkley-Smith, Josh Booth and James Chapman for the remaining 1500m.

They combined for a superb start out of the blocks and controlled the race to lead home Australia's rising under-23 crew, New Zealand and a British boat missing the high-profile crew that shaded Australia at the London Games.

"They're three of my best mates and for them to be able to do that for me was great," Lockwood said.

"They weren't going to race without me. If I didn't race they would have scratched so that wasn't an option either."

In other results...
The Women’s quadruple scull set the tone for the day by winning a gold medal in the first race in a time of 6:21.94 beating the USA by almost five seconds (4.57).  USA raced with four Olympians on board, including three Olympic gold medallists and one bronze medallist.  New Zealand came third.  This capped off a long week and marked the successful Senior A team debut for scullers Sarah Perkins (VIC) and last year’s Under 23 World Rowing Championships in this boat class Jessica Hall (QLD), Madeleine Edmunds (QLD) and Olympia Aldersey (SA).

Aldersey said: "The first part of our race we stuck to our guns and stayed confident.  I looked around at the 750m mark and realised that we were in front so we just had to work hard and stay in the rhythm. I was a bit surprised by our dominance, but we had a great preparation, and we’re all young, so it is all just very exciting”
Australia’s single sculler Kieran Kobelke (NSW) also impressed at his first World Rowing Cup by winning the silver medal, behind Bulgaria and ahead of German Olympian Jost Schoemann-Finck.  Kobelke after the race: “The whole experience of rowing for Australia in the single in the World Cup at home has been amazing.”
Kim Crow (VIC) delighted the partisan crowd with a convincing win in the single scull in a time of 7:35.80 ahead of China 1 with Olympian Bin Tang and Eleanor Logan from the USA, gold medallist in the women’s eight in London.  The London Olympic double medallist enjoyed the international racing on home waters and the home crowd support:  “It was really fun out there.  Just amazing. I could hear cheering and it all made me feel really, really special.  There was a fabulous mix of international, club and local atmosphere around, and the schoolgirls sitting on the bank were just going crazy.  I felt like Justin Bieber.”
One of the sweetest victories of the day was in the women’s eight event.  With an average age of just 21 years, the young Australian crew hung onto an early lead to upset the USA and claim gold in a time of 6:06.98 and 0.85 ahead.  The US boat had three gold medallist from last year’s Olympics, and have not lost an international women’s eight race since 2006.  Olympic silver medallists Canada took second place, so it was a fantastic result for the Australian women, who had been sixth in the eight in London last year.
Alexandra Hagan (WA), London 2012 Olympian, could hardly control her excitement:  “I cannot believe we actually did it.  We knew that you would be able to throw a blanket over everyone at the 1000m mark, but we made a promise as a crew to stay internal until that point and that is exactly what we did.  We then executed our tactics perfectly and stuck together and it all just worked out so well.  It was amazing getting out of the boat and walking up the pontoon to a whole grandstand cheering for us.  It was a fantastic feeling .”
And 2008 and 2012 Olympic coxswain Elizabeth Patrick (VIC) added:  “The young energy and the willingness of the girls to learn are very inspiring and really motivating.  There is such amazing potential in this crew and the future for women’s rowing in Australia is very exciting.”
The successful day of World Rowing Cup racing for Australia was capped off by the gutsy fight the young Australian men’s eight put up to win the bronze medal.  The winner of this race Great Britain raced with no less than three 2012 London Olympic gold medallists in the boat.
Rowing Australia’s National High Performance Director Chris O’Brien said:  “The team did a great job today.  Of course this was the first international competition and it is only year one of the new Olympiad but it was great to have our young talent out there in some very gutsy racing and they have really stepped up to the plate.”
He continued: “It has been a great motivation for everyone to have an international competition in Australia and to race so many London 2012 Olympians on our home waters.  This has been a great start to the Olympic cycle.  From here we will go on to pick the teams for the next World Rowing Cups, as well as the Junior, Under 23 and Senior A World Rowing Championships in August.”
Rowing Australia also finished at the top of the overall World Rowing Cup points table for the event, ahead of Great Britain and New Zealand.

AAP and Rowing Australia

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